Monday, May 11, 2015

DOH-Bicol to give free HIV testing in 7 centers

LEGAZPI CITY, May 10 (PNA) -- The Department of Health Regional Office V (DOH-ROV) will give free and confidential human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing starting Monday at seven identified HIV-screening clinics in the Bicol Region.

Dr. Jannish A. Arellano, DOH-ROV Medical Specialist III and head of the Infectious Disease Cluster, said those who have multiple sex partners, men having sex with men and injecting drug users are at higher risk of acquiring HIV and, thus, are encouraged to avail themselves of the free testing.

Concerns such as fear of being exposed and social stigma, however, usually prevent most people from having themselves tested, but, Arellano said he guarantees that testing will be done with utmost confidentiality.

“Everyone will undergo HIV counseling prior to the testing. It is a protocol to handle the patients’ information with confidentiality so there is no need for them to worry,” he assured.

Those who will participate in the testing may visit one of the social hygiene clinics in four provinces of the region.

For the province of Albay, there are the Daraga Rural Health Unit, Legazpi City Health Office and Tabaco City Health Office.

For the province of Camarines Sur, the Naga City Health Office is available while for the province of Camarines Norte, there is the Daet Rural Health Unit.

Two are available in the province of Sorsogon -- Sorsogon City Health Office and Matnog Rural Health Unit

The free HIV-testing activity is in response to the increasing number of HIV cases in the country, prompting the Department of Health to declare May 11–15 as National HIV Testing Week.

This is in line with the observance of the forthcoming AIDS Candlelight Memorial Day celebrated every May 17.

Based on DOH data, there are a total of 23,709 confirmed HIV cases in the country.

Low testing rate is cited as the cause of the current alarming rate.(PNA) CTB/FGS/EPS/CBD/PJN